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Road to the 2018 OHL Cup: Scoping out the SCTA

 

The SCTA playoff dust has settled and the first and third place teams are left standing as the province’s second-ranked Oakville Rangers and the emerging Guelph Gryphons are headed to this weekend’s OMHA Championship in Aurora, Ont.

Oakville, Guelph, the ETA’s York-Simcoe Express, Barrie Colts and Quinte Red Devils will battle it out, with four of the five teams punching their ticket to the 2018 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour while the fifth will have to win a Wild Card Play-In Game to gain access to the showcase.

Oakville has been the SCTA’s undisputed heavyweight champion from start to finish this season, finishing with an undefeated season record of 32-0-4 while outscoring opponents 218-40.

A group that has been playing together for a long time, this Rangers team draws some comparisons to the 2013 OHL Cup championship team led by blueliners Matt Spencer and Kyle Capobianco. A strong defence corps has been central to Oakville’s success this season as two-way workhorse Jake Murray, 20-goal scorer Zack Terry along with Nathan Ribau and Ethan Ritchie have given the club a calm presence on the blue line.

“There aren’t a lot of weaknesses with this team and they really spread the scoring around,” said OHL Director of Central Scouting Darrell Woodley. “They had 13 different guys with at least 10 goals this season, so there’s definitely skill up and down their lineup.”

Luke Evangelista led the SCTA with 103 points (42-61–103) over 42 games. The undersized forward uses his speed and smarts to sniff out scoring chances and makes the most of the opportunities he gets.

Six-foot centreman Cameron Tolnai has turned heads throughout the season, finishing with 91 points (34-57–91) over 41 games.

“Tolnai is among the smartest players in this draft class,” noted Woodley. “He always seems to be in the right spot and, though he isn’t the flashiest guy on the ice, he does a lot of little things that translate into big-time results.”

Twin brother Davis Tolnai and Marco Latassa form the last line of defence for the Rangers as the team recorded nine different shutouts this season.

While the second-place Niagara North Stars were upset in the SCTA Qualifiers, the third-place Guelph Gryphons have emerged as an OHL Cup contender after eliminating the Brampton 45’s to reach the OMHA Championship.

The Gryphons were one of the four teams to tie the Rangers during the regular season and are led by the scoring prowess of dynamic forward Logan Morrison.

After recording over a point-per-game as an underage forward in Minor Midget last year, Morrison returned to put up 91 points (42-49–91) in 38 games as the Gryphons played to a record of 23-10-3.

Linemate Jackson Kirk has been an effective finisher all season, finishing with 69 points (31-38–69) in 38 games while other forwards in Brody Waters (20-44–64) and Andrew Britton (21-29–50) have also frequented the scoresheet.

On the back end, Jack Harper has shown an ability to jump up into the rush and make an impact offensively. He led the Gryphons from the blue line with 43 points (13-30–43).

Oakville and Guelph square off on Friday at 10:00am at St. Andrew’s College in their bid to secure a spot at the 2018 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour.

All hope isn’t lost for the Brampton 45s and Grey-Bruce Highlanders though. The two clubs that lost their semi-final series will battle in a one game OHL Cup Wild Card qualifier on Sunday afternoon in Chesley, Ont. to determine who will compete in an OHL Cup Wild Card Play-In Game on Tuesday March 13th.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in playoff action across the province.

 

GTHL:

***The four teams that reach the GTHL semi-finals earn a 2018 OHL Cup berth. (Toronto Marlboros, Mississauga Reps, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Vaughan Kings). The winners of the GTHL Wild Card Play-In Series will earn a Wild Card spot at the OHL Cup.

GTHL CHAMPIONSHIP
(1) Toronto Marlboros vs. (2) Mississauga Reps
Marlboros lead series 5-3 in points

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Marlboros: (F) Ryan Alexander
Reps: (F) Matthew Papais

GTHL WILD CARD SERIES A
(5) Don Mills Flyers vs. (8) Mississauga Senators
Senators lead series 5-1 in points

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Flyers: (G) Joe Vrbetic
Senators: (D) Thomas Haynes 

GTHL WILD CARD SERIES B
(6) Mississauga Rebels vs. (7) Toronto Titans
Rebels lead series 5-1 in points

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Rebels: (C) Rory Kerins
Titans: (C) Jean-Luc Foudy

 

ALLIANCE:

*** The champion, finalist (London Jr. Knights, Brantford 99’ers) and third place team qualify for the 2017 OHL Cup

ALLIANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
(2) London Jr. Knights vs. (4) Brantford 99’ers
Series starts Friday

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
London: (F) Quinton Pepper (33 GP, 14G, 21A, 35 PTS.)
Brantford: (F) Theoren Hill (33 GP, 13G, 19A, 32 PTS.)

ALLIANCE WILD CARD SERIES
(1) Cambridge Hawks vs. (3) Sun County Panthers
Series starts Saturday

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cambridge: (F) Mason Mantzavrakos (29 GP, 13G, 10A, 23 PTS.)
Sun County: (F) Matthew Maggio (33 GP, 20G, 24A, 44 PTS.)

 

OMHA – ETA:

***The two ETA finalists (York-Simcoe, Barrie), along with the winner of a play-in game (Quinte) and two finalists from the SCTA (Oakville, Guelph) will compete in the 2018 OMHA Championship at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora from March 2-4. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams at the OMHA Championship will qualify for the 2018 OHL Cup.

SEMI-FINAL SERIES A
(1E) Peterborough Petes vs. (2W) York-Simcoe Express
York-Simcoe wins series 6-0 in points

SEMI-FINAL SERIES B
(1W) Barrie Colts vs. (3E) Quinte Red Devils
Barrie wins series 6-4 in points

OMHA CHAMPIONSHIPS PLAY-IN GAME
(3E) Quinte Red Devils vs. (1E) Peterborough Petes
Quinte wins game 3-2

 

OMHA – SCTA:

***The two finalists from the SCTA (Oakville, Guelph) will compete against the two finalists from the ETA (York-Simcoe, Barrie) along with the winner of a play-in game (Quinte) at the 2018 OMHA Championships at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, ON from March 2-4. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams at the OMHA Championship will qualify for the 2018 OHL Cup.

SEMI-FINAL – SERIES A
(1) Oakville Rangers vs. (6) Grey-Bruce Highlanders
Oakville wins series 6-0 in points

SEMI-FINAL – SERIES B
(3) Guelph Gryphons vs. (9) Brampton 45’s
Guelph wins series 7-1 in points

OHL CUP WILD CARD QUALIFIER
(9) Brampton 45’s vs. (6) Grey-Bruce Highlanders
Sunday March 4th in Chesley, Ont.

 

For more information on the 2018 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament Powered by Under Armour, visit ohlcup.ca.

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